Peter Pan Diamond Edtion – Blu-ray
Disney / Buena Vista
Release Date: Feb 5, 2013
Genre: Animated, Family
Rated: G
Reviewed by Mark Smith

Review Score: 4.5 of 5

I’m a big fan of all things Disney, but with so much to choose from in their massive library I definitely have my favorites and my no-so-favorites. For whatever reason, Peter Pan just never made a solid connection for me as a child and then when movies like Hook tainted the franchise I really lost respect. It wasn’t until the SyFy Channel did an interesting treatment of the material with their Neverland miniseries that I saw any potential in the Peter Pan saga. So with a fresh perspective and 40 years of movie-watching under my belt I sat down to relive the fantasy adventure that is Peter Pan, fully remastered and released to Blu-ray.

It’s probably insulting to even begin to cover the story behind Peter Pan, as anyone with the ability to read this review has likely seen the film at least once on some previously released format, but just to cover my bases, Peter Pan deals with the unique relationship between a girl, Wendy Darling, and a rogue “bad boy”, Peter Pan. Wendy has two younger brothers, John and Michael, and late one night Peter Pan appears and whisks them all away to Never Land, a magical realm filled with pirates, Indians, and a group of orphaned children known as the Lost Boys. Great adventure ensues as Peter’s fairy companion, Tinker Bell, who has a crush on Peter and is a bit jealous of Wendy, stirs up trouble and puts the children in the scope of the notorious Captain Hook.

Whether you can wrap yourself in the story or not there is no denying the expert level of craftsmanship and artistry on display in what is easily one of Disney’s most masterful animated features. The expressions, emotions, and level of detail in both characters and the gorgeous backgrounds rival the purity of anything that could be rendered from a computer. The film has been magnificently restored allowing for a pristine 1080p/AVC transfer that is free from grain and loaded with energized colors and crisp detail. Contrast is excellent and black levels are deep and satisfying. Peter Pan has never looked better.

Disney knocks it out of the park with another flawless DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix that effortlessly competes with any modern day production. There is effective use of rear channels to immerse you in Never Land while minimal use of LFE punches up key moments in the film. Throw in a perfectly balanced dialogue track and music that dreams are made of and you have an outstanding audio presentation. Sadly, those looking for a lossless version of the original mono track from 1953 will have to settle for a 192kps Dolby Digital mono track. I’m not sure why you would want to settle for anything less than DTS unless you were just trying to prove how far we’ve come in sixty years.

Disney’s Diamond Edition packs in the extras with a Blu-ray, DVD, and digital copy of the film, which looks amazing on my iPad’s retina display. You can kick off the Peter Pan experience with an Introduction by Diane Disney-Miller who gives some brief insight into the creation of the film. Those who have watched Peter Pan on the previously released DVD will likely recognize Roy Disney’s feature length commentary that covers nearly every aspect of creating Disney’s 14th feature film. “Growing Up with Nine Old Men” is a 41-minute fact-filled documentary detailing the artistic contributions by Disney’s most famous group of lead animators. Digging deeper into the vault, Disney adds 15 minutes of Deleted Songs and Scenes presented as storyboards and rough illustrations.

Much like the commentary, all of the previously released bonus content from the original DVD has been brought over, most of which remains in SD with a few HD exceptions. These include featurettes, documentaries, and more deleted material totaling 82 minutes. New for the Blu-ray release is the Disney Intermission feature; a clever and entertaining diversion that pops up anytime you hit pause during the movie. For kids who want to sing along, you can toggle some karaoke style lyrics with the Peter Pan Sing-Along feature, and if you find those black bars on the sides of the 1.33:1 picture insufferable, fill them in with some gorgeous background art from Disney artist, Cristy Maltese using Disney’s Side Bars. Last up are 14 minutes of Sneak Peeks for films like Wreck-It Ralph, Monsters University, and many more.

I have to admit that I enjoyed Peter Pan much more at age 49 than I ever did at age 9, and even though I may have changed over four decades, Disney continues to prove that their films are timeless treasures that will entertain children and adults now and far into the future. This remastered version is the best that Peter Pan has ever looked and sounded in his life and is a must have for anyone with kids of their own or just a kid at heart. No Disney collection is complete until you add the Peter Pan Diamond Edition.